Skip Navigation
Page Background

Severn River Commission

The Severn River Commission provides counsel and advice to Anne Arundel County, the City of Annapolis and The State of Maryland, concerning matters related to the Severn River and its watershed.


General Info

The Severn River Commission was created in 1984 by the Anne Arundel County Council and the Annapolis City Council to provide advice to these bodies on policies to enhance and protect the natural, historic and scenic quality of the Severn River watershed.  It consists of nine voting members and five ex-officio non-voting members who meet once a month.  Seven of the voting members are appointed by the Anne Arundel County Executive, and two are appointed by the Mayor of Annapolis.  Members serve staggered 3-year terms.


As stipulated in its charter, the Severn River Commission compiles a report of its activities every two years. Biennial reports covering the period 1995-2008 are available on line.

Minutes of monthly meetings since the last biennial report are also available on line.

Agenda for Upcoming SRC Meeting

Implementation of the Severn River Watershed Management Master Plan and protection of Jabez Branch remain the Commission's highest priorities. The plan has examined the health of streams in the Severn River watershed, assessing the present and future stormwater management needs, and providing a GIS-based analysis tool for planning future development.

Other on going Commission projects include involvement in updating and evaluation of Articles 16, 17, 18 (stormwater management, flood plain, land use.)

Different Organizations - Different Agenda

The Severn River Commission (SRC) and the Severn River Association exist to protect the Severn River watershed. However, very often one is confused with the other despite each having very different roles to fulfill. This is an attempt to help the public differentiate between the two and to explain what the SRC does.

The Severn River Association is a dues paying, non-profit activist organization. On the other hand, the Severn River Commission is a quasi-government entity with a specific charge.
The Severn River Commission was created by County Council Resolution 130-84 and City of Annapolis Resolution 55-84 as a result of a decision by the State General Assembly to designate the Severn River and its tributaries as a State Scenic River – one of nine rivers chosen for such designation in Maryland. The Scenic Rivers Act of 1978 instructed the local governing bodies to establish boards to advise on how to protect and enhance each river’s natural, scenic and cultural heritage. Thus the Severn River commission was created. The County and City resolutions charged the SRC to provide counsel and advise on policies, laws, rules, and regulations which the SRC believes may have an impact on the Severn River watershed.

The commission consists of seven county and two city voting members and three ex-officio non-voting members. The nine voting members must be confirmed by either County or City Councils and all are bound by ethics laws. The members serve without compensation.  All meetings are public, are advertised as required by law and minute s are maintained as public documents. A biennial report of its activities is required.

Its official advisory role and official nature set Severn River Commission apart from the Severn River Association and other Severn River groups.

There have been attempts in the past to lure the Commission into an activist role but with small success. From time to time individual Commission members do take on special projects they are interested in and report back to the Commission, but overall policy issues dominate the agenda. For example, protection of the Jabez Branch has been a priority since the SRC was created. Last year former County Executive Janet Owens instructed the SRC to investigate establishing an environmental overlay protection zone for the Jabez Branch watershed. The SRC is pursuing that charge and will make recommendations.

In its role as an advisory body, the SRC has been involved in legislative and regulatory procedures concerning critical and decisive issues affecting the well-being of the entire watershed. Of particular concern is the projected deforestation of the watershed. Currently, 33% of the Severn River Watershed is forested, however, the projected forest cover could be reduced to 6% with current zoning if total build out occurs. The implications of such loss of forest cover are staggering and will be reviewed by the SRC in the context of the General Development Plan.

It is in areas such as those mentioned above that the Severn River Commission is mostly effective and builds a credible reputation as a true advisory body. To further its effectiveness, the Commission is discussing ways to create a framework for interaction between the Commission and the many watershed organizations with environmental interests. A unity of purpose among the groups would generate more focused attention on producing positive results. Everyone would benefit.

Meeting Information

The Severn River Commission meets at 4 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month in the Severn Room, 4th floor of the Anne Arundel County Heritage Office Complex , 2664 Riva Rd., Annapolis.  The meetings are open to the public.
Public input on matters pertaining to the natural, historic, and scenic qualities of the Severn watershed is permitted at beginning and end of each meeting, input limited to three minutes per speaker.  The Commission is particulary interested in hearing on issues related to current or future legislation or government policies. (Draft Agenda)